Thematic Network on Disasters and Natural Hazards


Disasters affect everyone, with the toll emerging from the continued creation and continuation of vulnerabilities. Difficulties with hazards and risks in the Arctic include extreme cold, great distances, periods of darkness, rapidly changing weather and climate, and limited infrastructure. Difficulties with vulnerabilities threaten the sustainability of Arctic peoples and livelihoods. We need to become more proactive in training the next generation of disaster and natural hazard scientists and public safety policy and decision makers, especially to support Arctic Council actions across borders in the North. Our goal is to contribute to this future of better informed, evidence-based, and more collaborative approaches to public safety, especially reducing disaster risks over the long-term.


  • Sharing of experiences and best practices, especially through workshops, education, and scientific projects.
  • Development of courses and seminars in disasters and natural hazards.
  • Integrated degree paths among our members, with the goal that all graduate students in the disaster and natural hazards sciences will spend some time at a partner university to gain a broader perspective.
  • Propose and conduct joint research projects on risk-vulnerability-hazard links.
  • Develop and test new societal initiatives and technologies for real-time monitoring, hazard and vulnerability assessment, and forecasting and warning.
  • Link monitoring and exchange across borders.
  • Develop best practices in stimulating vulnerability and risk reduction, as well as preparedness and planning, by everyone through realistic scenarios, education, and support for local leadership.
  • Develop disaster-related science diplomacy, disaster diplomacy, and risk diplomacy activities, such as workshops, conference sessions, research projects, and publications with the Science Diplomacy Thematic Network.
  • UArctic Congress 2020. A proposal was submitted for a collaborative session, entitled Fostering Resilience in Arctic Communities through Responsible and Ethical Research and Cross-border Collaboration.
  • European Geological Union (EGU) Genera Assembly 2020. Vienna, Austria, 3-8 May 2020. Session NH4.2: Seismic Hazard and Disaster Risk: Observations, Assessment, Testing and Implementation Policy/Diplomacy
  • ESOF EuroScience Open Forum 2020, Trieste, Italy, 5-9 July 2020. A panel, Advancing Global Resilience and Fostering Cross-border Cooperation through Disaster Diplomacy Efforts.  The conference program is not yet available.
  • Roundtable "Floods in the Arctic", September 27, 2019, Northern Forum on Sustainable Development, Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia, September 24-28, 2019
  • Panel Session PA24A “Science Diplomacy: Advancing Scientific Discovery Through Cross-Border Collaboration”, American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2019 Meeting, December 2019, San Francisco, CA.
  • An international and interdisciplinary session on disaster-related science diplomacy at the Amercian Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall 2018 Meeting in Washington D.C. The session featured presentations on disaster resilience and disaster diplomacy in the Arctic region from UArctic members from UAF & Tufts University. The session was organized and chaired by Katia Kontar. More information is available here.
  • Presentations at the Alaska Forum on the Environment, Anchorage, February 2019, on forming an inclusive consortium to evaluate flood and coastal erosion hazards, projecting forward by incorporating regional climate forecasts, and exploring options for mitigating risk to rural Arctic villages. 
  • An interdisciplinary and international Research Coordination Network (RCN): A Global Network of Disaster-Related Research and Diplomacy in the Arctic is being assembled to advance research and education efforts in Arctic disaster resilience. 
  • Proposals totaling $8 M were submitted to the International Continental Scientific Drilling Program (ICDP; GFZ, Potsdam) and the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 (H2020) to initiate the Krafla Magma Testbed at Krafla Caldera, Iceland. This will be the world’s first magma observatory, and has the dual objectives of revolutionizing geothermal energy - the only non-CO2, continuous bed load, small-footprint - and volcano monitoring. This international infrastructure will be used to “ground truth” methods of locating active magma bodies and interpretation signals thought to represent volcano “unrest”, and to pioneer direct measurement of conditions in magma chambers to vastly improve forecasting of eruptions. The facility will also provide rich educational opportunities on themes of natural hazards, clean energy, and climate change in cooperation with the University of Akureyri and Iceland.


  • Meriläinen, E., & Lehtinen, A. A. (2022). Re-articulating forest politics through “rights to forest” and “rights of forest.” Geoforum, 133, 89–100.
  • Meriläinen, E., & Fougère, M. (2022). The nature–human dichotomy within disaster governance. In Transformative Action for Sustainable Outcomes. Routledge.
  • Kelman, I. (ed.). 2022. Antarcticness: Imaginations and Inspirations. UCL Press, London, U.K.
  • Silvast, Antti; Kongsager, Rico; Lehtonen, Turo-Kimmo; Lundgren, Minna & Virtanen, Mikko (2021). Critical infrastructure vulnerability: a research note on adaptation to climate change in the Nordic countries. Geografisk Tidsskrift-Danish Journal of Geography 121(1): 79-90.
  • Kontar, Y.Y., A. Ismail-Zadeh, P.A. Berkman, P. I. Duda, P. Gluckman, I. Kelman, and V. Murray. 2021. "Knowledge Exchange Through Science Diplomacy to Assist Disaster Risk Reduction". Progress in Disaster Science, vol. 11, article 100188.
  • Meriläinen, E., Nikkanen, M., Räsänen, A., & Silvast, A. (2020). Katastrofitutkimuksen käsitteistöä suomeksi ja Suomessa: Kimmoisasti vaaroja kohti? Alue ja Ympäristö, 49(2), 92–109.
  • Shunsuke Tei, Tomoki Morozumi,  Shin Nagai,  Shinya Takano,  Atsuko Sugimoto,  Ryo Shingubara, Rong Fan,  Alexander Fedorov,  Tuyara Gavrilyeva,  Nikita Tananaev, Trofim Maximov (2020) An extreme flooding occurred in spring - summer 2017 over the Indigirka River lowland in Northeastern Siberia: Extent, cause, and possible effects on the ecosystem, October 2019, Hydrological Processes, 34: 522–537. DOI: 10.1002/hyp.13601
  • Daiju Narita, Tuyara Gavrilyeva, Alexander Isaev (ca. 2020) Impacts and Management of Forest Fires in the Republic of Sakha, Russia: Integrating Local and Global Perspectives, Polar Science, Japan (under review)
  • Nikita Tananaev, Vilena Efremova, Tuyara Gavrilyeva, Olga Parfenova (2020) Assessment of the community vulnerability to extreme spring floods: The case of the Amga River, central Yakutia, Siberia, Hydrology Research (in publishing)
  • Tuyara Gavrilyeva, Vilena Efremova (2019) Social and Economic Consequences of Floods in Yakutia, Roundtable "Floods in the Arctic", September 27, 2019, Northern Forum on Sustainable Development, Yakutsk, Republic of Sakha (Yakutia), Russia, September 24-28, 2019 (presentation).
  • Douglas, M., Kontar, Y., Smieszek M., Pope, A., & Zhuraravleva, I. (2020). Building Capacity: Education beyond Boundaries. In Governing Arctic Seas: Regional Lessons from the Bering Strait and Barents Sea (Eds.) Young, O. R., Berkman, P.A., Vylegzhani, A. N. Springer, 2020. 10.1007/978-3-030-25674-6
  • Pulsifer, P., Kontar, Y., Berkman, P.A., & Taylor, D.R. (2020).  Information Ecology to Map the Arctic Information Ecosystem. In Governing Arctic Seas: Regional Lessons from the Bering Strait and Barents Sea (Eds.) Young, O. R., Berkman, P.A., Vylegzhani, A. N. Springer, 2020. 10.1007/978-3-030-25674-6
  • A series of chapters on the subject of disaster resilience in the Arctic will be contributed to the Springer (2020) edited volume “Science Diplomacy for Disaster Risk Reduction: Advancing Disaster Resilience through International Scientific Collaborations and Stakeholder Engagement.” Natural Hazards thematic participants invited to contribute manuscripts.
  • Sellheim, N., Y.V. Zaika, and I. Kelman (eds.). 2019. Arctic Triumph: Northern Innovation and Persistence. Springer, Basel, Switzerland.
  • A collaborative UAF-NEFU-Tufts article, published in November 2018.  Kontar, Y. Y., Trainor, S. F., Gavrilyeva, T. N., Eichelberger, J. C., & Tananaev, N. I. (2018). Advancing Spring Flood Risk Reduction in the Arctic through Interdisciplinary Research and Stakeholder CollaborationsGlobal Change and Future Earth: The Geoscience Perspective3, 341.
  • A collaborative publication with co-authors from ISIRA, Tufts, & UAF, published in June 2018. Kontar, Y.Y., Beer, T., Berkman, P.A., Eichelberger, J.C., Ismail-Zadeh, A., Kelman, I., LaBrecque, J.L., Sztein, A.E., & Zaika,  Y.  (2018). Disaster-related  Science  Diplomacy:  Advancing Global  Resilience  through  International  Scientific Collaborations, Science   &   Diplomacy,   7(2). 
  • A collaborative chapter “U.S.-Russia Disaster Diplomacy in the Arctic: Current Status and Future Prospects” written by the members of the Natural Hazards thematic to be released in a Springer Polar Sciences Series book entitled “Arctic Triumph” (est. November 2018).
  • Kelman, I. (ed.). 2017. Arcticness: Power and Voice from the North. UCL Press, London, U.K.
  • Kelman, I. 2017. "Governmental duty of care for disaster-related science diplomacy". Disaster Prevention and Management, vol. 26, no. 4, pp. 412-423.
  • Springtime Flood Risk Reduction in Rural Arctic: A Comparative Study of Interior Alaska, United States and Central Yakutia, Russia (doi:10.3390/geosciences8030090) summarizes the key findings of the bilateral and interdisciplinary scientific and education collaboration implemented by the Natural Hazards Thematic Network in 2015-2016.

Other Information

Ilan Kelman, Lead of the UArctic Thematic Network on Disasters and Natural Hazards